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Who invaded the US Capitol on Jan. 6? Criminal cases shed light on offenses

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Graphics by Ramon Padilla and Javier Zarracina, USA TODAY

Published Updated

Graphics by Ramon Padilla and Javier Zarracina, USA TODAY

A year after a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, federal authorities continue to pursue and prosecute rioters. 

As of late December, the Department of Justice had charged 702 people with crimes related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, with more than 2,700 total separate charges. But the FBI's wanted page for violent Capitol offenders shows photos of another 350 people who have yet to be publicly identified or charged. 

As of mid-December, at least 146 individuals have signed guilty pleas and at least 55 have been sentenced. Some of the longest jail terms and bigger fines emerged in December, as individuals charged with more violent crimes were sentenced. 

The criminal cases portray how participants allegedly planned and executed the violent clash to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote in favor of President Joe Biden. The attack left 140 police officers injured; four people died that day, including a woman shot to death by police outside the House chamber. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died the next day. At least four other officers died by suicide in the days and months afterward.

Violent rioters, loyal to President Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Violent rioters, loyal to President Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. John Minchillo/AP

Capitol riot arrests: USA TODAY has tracked arrests around the country. See who's been charged.

At least 26 convicted rioters have been sentenced to prison terms. Their sentences range from two weeks to more than five years, but most are for six months or less. The average – 10.6 months – is pushed higher by the four people who have been sentenced to more than 40 months in jail.  

Federal judges have assessed more than $65,000 in fines and restitution, including $500 restitution fees that most convicted rioters have been ordered to pay. 

Here's what we know about the rioters so far:

Most were men

Most were men

The majority were male. Of the 702 charged so far, 611 are men and 91 are women. They range in age from 18 to 80. 

They traveled from across the country to attend the rally for Trump. Some say they were supporting the president. Others were protesting what they viewed as a flawed election. Some planned ahead, donning gas masks and arming themselves with weapons and repellants such as bear spray and pepper spray. Dozens wore tactical vests. Others seemed to have come after the rally, caught up in the furor of the moment. 

Where people came from

Where people came from

Individuals have been charged in every state but three: North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Florida, with 79, leads in the total number of residents charged, followed by Pennsylvania with 65  and Texas with 63. California and New York each have 50. 

Court records reveal how participants raised money for the travel and hotel rooms, with some carpooling from as far as Florida or California to attend.

Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia, who was president of a local Proud Boys chapter, posted a fundraising link that generated $5,500 from Dec. 30 to Jan. 4 for “Travel Expenses for upcoming Patriot Events,” according to court records.

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Ronald Sandlin of Shelby County, Tennessee, solicited financial support on Dec. 31, 2020, through Facebook from other “patriots” in exchange for a “personal thank you video shot on location in Washington, D.C.,” according to prosecutors. The post linked to a GoFundMe page with the caption “Patriots Defending Our Country on Jan. 6th, organized by Ronnie Sandlin.”

When comparing the number of individuals charged in each state per 100,000 residents, the District of Columbia leads with 0.7, followed by Montana at 0.56 and Pennsylvania at 0.50.

Jail time

Jail time

The two men to draw the longest jail terms so far – Robert Scott Palmer and Devlyn Thompson – were involved in some of the day’s most violent fighting, on the Capitol’s lower west terrace. That’s where Officer Michael Fanone was attacked, beaten and shocked with a stun gun and where Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke the next day, was sprayed with an unknown substance.

In December, Palmer was the first defendant to be sentenced on a charge of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous or deadly weapon and has drawn the longest jail term so far – 63 months.  

The Largo, Florida, man was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, appointed by President Barack Obama, to pay $2,000 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release after prison. Federal officials said he threw a wooden plank at officers guarding the lower west terrace, sprayed a fire extinguisher at officers and threw the empty canister at them. 

Robert Palmer of Largo, Fla., wearing the flag jacket, was sentenced in December to 63 months in jail for assaulting law enforcement with dangerous weapons.
Robert Palmer of Largo, Fla., wearing the flag jacket, was sentenced in December to 63 months in jail for assaulting law enforcement with dangerous weapons. U.S. Department of Justice

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Thompson, a 28-year-old from Seattle, was sentenced to 46 months by a federal judge in the District of Columbia. Thompson had been among the first to plead guilty to assaulting an officer while using a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced by  U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, an Army veteran appointed by President Ronald Reagan. 

Devlyn Thompson of Seattle drew a 46-month sentence for assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Devlyn Thompson of Seattle drew a 46-month sentence for assaulting a law enforcement officer. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Two other rioters have been sentenced to 41 months, including Jacob Chansley of Arizona, dubbed the QAnon shaman. 

Wearing face paint and carrying a 6-foot spear with an American flag, Chansley also wore a furry, horned helmet. Chansley was charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly and disruptive conduct, violent entry and parading, demonstrating, or picketing.

The other defendant sentenced to 41 months was Scott Kevin Fairlamb of New Jersey, who climbed the scaffolding on the west terrace, then recorded video that he posted on social media. Fairlamb shoved and punched an officer. 

Probation

Probation

At least 27 people have received probation-only sentences, with times ranging from two to 60 months. 

The longest probations  – 60 months – were handed to Thomas and Lori Ann Vinson, a husband and wife from Morganfield, Kentucky. Their charges have become the most common: entering a restricted building; parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building or grounds; and disorderly conduct. 

Thomas and Lori Ann Vinson, a husband and wife from Morganfield, Kentucky were placed on probation for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection.
Thomas and Lori Ann Vinson, a husband and wife from Morganfield, Kentucky were placed on probation for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Guns

Guns

At least four rioters have faced gun charges.

Mark Mazza of Shelbyville, Indiana, was charged with dropping a Taurus revolver from the waistband of his pants while allegedly assaulting police on the West Front of the Capitol about 2:30 p.m.

Mark Mazza of Shelbyville, Ind., took a loaded gun to the Capitol and lost it there, federal officials said.
Mark Mazza of Shelbyville, Ind., took a loaded gun to the Capitol and lost it there, federal officials said. U.S. Department of Justice

The revolver, part of the "Judge" series, can fire both shotgun shells and regular bullets and was loaded with three .410 gauge shotgun shells and two .45 caliber hollow point rounds, according to court records.

Christopher Alberts was charged with carrying a firearm on Capitol grounds. An officer noticed Alberts, who wore a bulletproof vest, had a Taurus 9 mm pistol on his hip loaded with 13 rounds, documents note.

Other participants also brought guns to the area. Mark Grods and James Dolan each admitted bringing firearms – a shotgun and an M4 rifle – to the Washington area before storming into the Capitol. They pleaded guilty to obstructing Congress and conspiracy for joining other Oath Keepers, a group recruited from former members of military and law enforcement.

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Grods, who drove to the protest from Mobile, Alabama, brought a shotgun, a semi-automatic handgun and ammunition for both to a hotel in Virginia, according to his plea deal. Grods met others near the White House, boarded golf carts and drove to the Capitol.

Dolan, who drove from Wellington, Florida, brought an M4 rifle in a case to the Comfort Inn Ballston hotel in Virginia, according to the plea deal. He met other co-conspirators outside the Capitol’s east Rotunda doors and entered about 2:40 p.m. with a group of Oath Keepers in a stack formation, with each person holding the shoulder of the person in front of them, according to the plea deal.

A family affair

A family affair

Like the Vinsons, more than 12% of those charged so far were at the riot with a close relative - husbands, wives, parents, brothers, sisters and uncles. They include eleven married couples.

Five members of the Munn family from Borger, Texas, face charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The face of a minor child who also accompanied the family is obscured by the Department of Justice in this photo.
Five members of the Munn family from Borger, Texas, face charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The face of a minor child who also accompanied the family is obscured by the Department of Justice in this photo. U.S. Department of Justice

Among those are Thomas and Dawn Munn, who took at least three adult children with them as they crawled through a broken window, federal charging documents show. Also charged are nine sets of brothers, nine father/son pairs and at least four mother/son pairs.  

Veterans and first responders

Veterans and first responders

At least 70 veterans have been charged, including one person each on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve and National Guard. More than a third of the veterans charged served with the Marines. 

At least 20 of the 702 people charged so far were current or former first responders, including six active-duty police officers and nine former or retired officers.

Extremist groups

Extremist groups

At least 100 of the individuals charged were linked to a far right or extremist organization, according to federal charging documents. More than a third of those were identified as members of the Proud Boys. Another 24 were members of the Oath Keepers, and 14 were associated with the Three Percenters. At least 21 wore clothing or espoused principles connected to QAnon conspiracy theories.

As rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol building, the grounds normally hailed as the seat of American democracy became a melting pot of extremist groups. Militia members, white supremacists, paramilitary organizations and fervent supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stood shoulder to shoulder.
As rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol building, the grounds normally hailed as the seat of American democracy became a melting pot of extremist groups. Militia members, white supremacists, paramilitary organizations and fervent supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stood shoulder to shoulder. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Conspiracy charges

Conspiracy charges

Conspiracy charges against at least 56 defendants describe how extremist organizations such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have grown more sophisticated in recent years, from loose-knit networks of people disgruntled with the government to groups with thousands of online followers.

But nobody has been charged with seditious conspiracy or insurrection for trying to overthrow the government. Kenneth Gray, a senior lecturer at the University of New Haven and former 24-year FBI special agent, said the lack of insurrection charges suggests authorities haven’t found evidence that the attack was planned from the top down.

Social media and planning

Social media and planning

Court records describe defendants comparing notes through social media about what to pack for the protest and even what to wear. When they feared the infiltration of secure messaging apps, they switched channels.

Proud Boys international chair Enrique Tarrio posted a Parler message on Dec. 29 saying members of the group wouldn’t wear their traditional black and yellow shirts but instead travel incognito.

A member of the Oath Keepers, Thomas Caldwell of Berryville, Virginia, who adopted online monikers such as "CAG Spy," used Zello to create a channel called “Stop the Steal J6,” according to court records.

“We are surging forward,” he wrote to Facebook contacts at 2:48 p.m. Jan. 6. “Doors breached.”

“All members are in the tunnels under the capital seal them in,” said a Facebook post Jan. 6 to Caldwell, according to court records. “Turn on gas.”

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